Attorneys representing a Readfield couple filed an appeal brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday contending that their lawsuit seeking an end to Maine’s Sunday-hunting ban, which was dismissed by a lower court, has merit in light of the state’s new “right to food” amendment.

Virginia and Joel Parker filed suit last April in Augusta District Court against the commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, contending that the Sunday hunting ban runs afoul of the right-to-food amendment now enshrined in the Maine Constitution. State voters approved the amendment in November 2021. 

The lower court dismissed the lawsuit in November without comment. 

IFW Commissioner Judy Camuso has until May 4 to file a response to the Parkers’ brief, according to the court. An email requesting comment from Camuso or IFW officials on Thursday afternoon was not returned.

Arguments in the brief state that: “The Maine Right to Food Amendment expanded the rights guaranteed under the Maine Constitution, and enshrined the right to food, as defined by the language of the Amendment, as a fundamental right. The facts, as alleged by Plaintiffs, demonstrate that Maine’s statutory ban on Sunday hunting … which predates the Right to Food Amendment, infringes on this fundamental right as applied to those individuals who wish to hunt for food.”

Andrew Schmidt with Borealis Law in Portland, which is representing the Parkers, said he hopes the appeal will be heard by the high court sometime this summer. Schmidt said he remains hopeful that the couple will win, saying the Sunday-hunting ban is “arbitrary” and outdated. 


Maine and Massachusetts are the only states that ban hunting on Sunday.

“The people of Maine have a fundamental right to harvest food of their choosing. Hunting is a critical form of harvest for many of us,” Schmidt said. “The (Maine) legislature is free to pass laws that protect the safety of Maine people and our natural resources, but blanket bans on hunting on one day a week is an arbitrary law and we believe the Supreme Court will find it unconstitutional because it abridges the fundamental right in the new amendment.”

IFW estimated that in 2018, deer hunting provided 1.5 million pounds of meat to hunters and their families, and that the average deer produces about 70 pounds of meat, according to the brief.

Virginia Parker said only having one weekend day to hunt is a hardship for her family of seven because school and sports keep her five children busy during the week, and her husband works long hours Monday through Friday. With only Saturday to stalk deer, Parker said, her family can’t travel farther north where they have landowner permission to hunt. 

Parker said hunting deer takes time and only having one day a week to do so makes it twice as hard. She was the only one in her family to harvest a deer last fall even though all seven family members had antlerless permits that allowed them to shoot both a buck and a doe. Parker said it took her until December’s muzzleloading season to shoot a small buck, which produced only 25 pounds of meat. 

“We’re going at this to win it,” Parker said of the lawsuit. “Hunting means going out and harvesting an animal versus going to the grocery store … you can have wild, superior meat that you can’t get at the grocery store. We farm and we raise animals to harvest. The opportunity to get outdoors and hunt on only one day of the weekend doesn’t seem fair. And now with inflation and the cost of food, it’s insane. It’s absolutely insane.”

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